By Eric Schweibenz
On January 30, 2017, the International Trade Commission (“Commission”) issued its opinion construing two terms of U.S. Patent No. 6,082,616 (“the ’616 patent”) in Certain Automated Teller Machines, ATM Modules, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-972).

By way of background, this investigation is based on an October 19, 2015 complaint filed by Diebold, Inc. and Diebold Self-Service Systems (collectively, “Diebold”) alleging violation of Section 337 in the importation into the U.S. and sale of certain automated teller machines, ATM modules, components thereof, and products containing same by Respondents Nautilus Hyosung Inc., Nautilus Hyosung America Inc., and HS Global, Inc. (collectively, “Nautilus”) that infringe one or more claims of the ’616 patent as well as U.S. Patent Nos. 7,121,461 (“the ’461 patent”); 7,229,010 (“the ’010 patent”); 7,249,761 (“the ’761 patent”); 7,314,163 (“the ’163 patent”); and 7,832,631 (“the ’631 patent”). See our October 20, 2015 and November 19, 2015 posts for more details on the complaint and Notice of Investigation, respectively. The ’461 patent, the ’761 patent, and the ’163 patent were previously terminated from the investigation. On November 30, 2016, ALJ Dee Lord issued an Initial Determination (“ID”) finding a violation of Section 337 with respect to the ’616 and ’631 patents, finding no violation with respect to the ’010 patent, and recommending that a limited exclusion order and cease-and-desist orders issue against Nautilus. See our December 12, 2016 post for additional details.

Diebold and Nautilus each filed a petition for review of the ID. Their petitions included, inter alia, arguments concerning claim construction for the ’616 patent. In particular, Diebold petitioned for review of the construction of “service opening.” Nautilus filed a contingent petition asking that, if the construction of “service opening” were reviewed by the Commission, then the Commission should also review the construction of “second position.” The Commission determined to review the ID in part, including as to these two claim constructions for the ’616 patent.

According to the opinion, the Commission found the claim constructions under review to be “more complicated, and less clear, than the claim terms themselves.” Specifically, “[i]nstead of focusing on interpreting the claim language, the parties invited the ALJ to construe the constructions, and then to construe the constructions of the constructions” which “caused the constructions to lose sight of the claim language itself.” After reviewing the Markman order and subsequent orders explaining and expanding on the constructions of the terms at issue, the Commission ultimately decided that the term “service opening” should be afforded its plain and ordinary meaning, i.e., “an opening through which a component may be serviced.” The Commission also found that the term “a second position wherein ... the service opening is not accessible from outside the housing” should be afforded its plain and ordinary meaning, and not be construed to mean that the “service point is not accessible” (emphasis in original).